UPDATE: Mardi Gras Express expects new start date

Gm&Amp;O Historic Train Station In Downtown Mobile Mardi Gras Express
The GM&O Historic Train Station in downtown Mobile is a potential station for the Mardi Gras Express. (Liv George / The Bama Buzz)

After delays and disagreements, the Mardi Gras Express is finally rolling in soon. Here’s the latest on the passenger train connecting Mobile and New Orleans.

What’s happened so far—Amtrak Mardi Gras Express

Birmingham Amtrak. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

Let’s do a little recap on the Mardi Gras Express story.

  • March 2021: Amtrak and the Southern Railroad Commission announced plans to run a passenger train from Mobile to New Orleans, wittily-named the “Mardi Gras Express,” set to open by 2022. Spoiler alert—that didn’t happen.
  • February-March 2022: Controversy over the planned railway started heating up, and meetings were held to address it. In short, CSX runs the railway and didn’t want the Mardi Gras Express to come to fruition due to concerns over delayed shipping times.
  • April 2022: Amtrak responded to pushback by live-streaming a portion of the railway on Twitch which showed tracks that were mostly empty through the span of a work day. This interesting response to the controversy was meant to show that the tracks could handle a passenger train with interfering with CSX’s needs, but CSX said that the video was not an accurate representation.
  • November 2022: Amtrak reached an agreement with opposing parties (including Alabama Port Authority, CSX and Norfolk Southern Railroads), but start date was unknown.

Needless to say, this train has been a long time coming.

The new 2024 start date for the Mardi Gras Express

In a presentation at the Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism on Sunday, August 27, a new update was given on this developing story.

Grey Brennan, Deputy Director at the Alabama Tourism Department, said that the Mardi Gras Express is expected to start rolling in January 2024.

In our November 2022 update on The Bama Buzz, we explained how the Mardi Gras Express will work. Here’s what we can expect, according to the 2021 route plan:

  • 28 trips per week
  • Stops in Mississippi along the route (Pascagoula, Biloxi, Gulfport, and Bay St. Louis)
  • 2015 study says twice-daily train between Mobile and New Orleans would draw 38,400 riders and cost $7 million to operate

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Sarah Gronberg
Sarah Gronberg
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